Ryan Kalamaya Moderates Virtual Town Hall on Coronavirus with Judges in the 5th Judicial District

Coronavirus colorado divorce

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Ryan Kalamaya moderated a virtual town hall, which was hosted by the Continental Divide Bar Association, focusing on issues with the court system and COVID-19. The town hall featured Chief Judge Mark Thompson, Judge Catherine Cheroutes, Judge Paul Dunkelman, Judge Reed Owens, and Family Court Facilitator Laurie Mactavish all of the 5th Judicial District.

The Courts are Open for Business

The panelists stressed that the courts are open for business and are available to handle issues that come up. However, the court will handle most appearances virtually. The entire Colorado Judicial System will use Cisco Webex to hold court hearings where in-person appearances are not absolutely necessary. Webex allows judges to set up virtual dockets, that work similarly to in-person dockets. The parties login to Webex (or call-in) and join a queue. When the judge is ready for their case, the court transfers the parties into the courtroom.

Parenting Time and Child Support

While the courts are open for business, the judges do not want parties to create emergencies to get into court. The judges mentioned several of the things we discussed in our post about parenting time and COVID-19. For example, all of the panelists expressed that they were hopeful parties can be reasonable and work through issues without resorting to the court. They also discussed how parents who make unreasonable requests or take unreasonable positions would not be in a good position if they end up going to court.

The same is true for child support issues. The panelists hope that parties can work through issues with child support. If a parent is laid off or unemployed because of the coronavirus, the judges are available to deal with those issues but noted that to change alimony or child support, the change in circumstances must be substantial and continuing. While COVID-19 caused substantial changes, it may be too soon to say they are continuing.

While the panelists do not want parties to create emergencies where there are none, the court is still open and available to hear legitimate emergencies, such as child safety concerns or domestic violence. For the 5th Judicial District, the process of getting into court hasn’t changed. If parties cannot work out issues on their own, they should email Laurie Mactavish, who will start the process.

Other Services are Still Available

The panelists also mentioned that other methods for resolving divorce and family law disputes are available. The majority of mediators are still doing mediation over video. Video services like Zoom and Webex allow the parties to have break-out rooms, so mediation still works as it does in person.

Similarly, Child and Family Investigators and Parental Responsibility Evaluators are still accepting appointments and doing evaluations. Parties can also allowed to complete parenting classes online, rather than in-person.

Summary

In summary, the courts are still open. However, the judges are hoping parties can worth through issues during this pandemic without resorting to the court. If the parties can’t work out an issue, they can get into court like normal.

Watch the Virtual Town Hall

Watch the entire virtual town hall on Facebook. Alternatively, you can watch the virtual town hall on Zoom.

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